This week in North Fork history: LIRR train crashes into Greenport man’s truck

JUDY AHRENS FILE PHOTO | John Farrell points to the spot in Greenport where his car was struck by a Long Island Railroad car on Dec. 30, 1986.

The following stories were excerpted from Suffolk Times issues published 15, 20 and 25 years ago this week:

25 years ago …

Radio silence blamed for rail crash

A Greenport man’s pick-up truck was demolished after getting stuck on the tracks of the Silvermere Road railroad crossing on Dec. 30, 1986 according to a report in the next week’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

Joseph Farrell was on his way home in a blizzard when his truck skidded and got caught on the railroad tracks at about 7 p.m. He knew the 4:07 train from long Island City was due to arrive soon so he ran to a nearby house and called Southold Police, who then alerted the railroad.

But the train never stopped.

It was charging ahead at 40 miles per hour when Mr. Farrell’s restored 1967 Chevy was sent airborne, landing 50 feet away.

The LIRR blamed the crash on a spotty radio signal that prevented the conductor from receiving a report on the stopped truck.

No passengers were on board the train at the time of the crash.

“I’m just glad 1986 is over,” Mr. Farrell told us.

20 years ago …

Handy Pantry is coming to town

The Tolendal Inn will reopen in April as the Handy Pantry convenience store, read the lead of the page 2 story in the Jan. 2, 1992 issue of The Suffolk Times.

The Mattituck store was the ninth opened in Suffolk County, according to our story.

A proposed Handy Pantry for Speonk was shot down in 1990, but the company said it had its eye on the North Fork for a long time.

“I had been looking in this area for a number of years now,” said Handy Pantry president Joseph Stocken. “I told my realtor to let me know if anything became available between the A&P and Country Time Bicycles. Then this did.”

15 years ago …

Forbes calls for Speaker switch

Congressman Mike Forbes, who during his first term was one of Newt Gingrich’s most steadfast supporters, this week became the first to suggest that pending ethics charges have so seriously eroded the speaker’s standing that he should step down, we wrote in the Jan. 2, 1997 issue of The Suffolk Times.

“We need leadership that will not be cowering, contrite or hiding from the media,” Mr. Forbes, a Republican from Quogue, told The New York Times that week.

Postscript: Mr. Gingrich, as I’m sure you know, will get a good feel for his chance to be the next president of The United States in the Iowa caucus Tuesday. Mr. Forbes, meanwhile, lost a Democratic primary in 2000 after a party switch, ending his three-term run in Congress.

Riverhead orthodontist wrote country music hit

Richard Bach may be America’s only orthodontist/country and western songwriter, we wrote in a 1997 profile on the Osborne Avenue doctor.

Dr. Bach wrote the song “She’s Taken a Shine,” a single performed by singer John Berry that had risen to as high as No. 41 on the Billboard country charts at the time of our story.

“I like having two separate lives,” he told us. “I can play golf with a country star like Marty Rowe [from Dimaond Rio] on Sunday and work on my 12-year-old patients on Monday.”

Postscript: The song would eventually reach No. 2 on the charts, but never did take the top spot. Dr. Back still maintains his practice in Riverhead.